• Jonathan Terry

Creating your own personal project

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Personal projects are an excellent way to showcase your skills and knowledge to the world. But what exactly should you do for one? In this article we are going to take a look at what you should consider when starting a project, and what you can do with your project once its completed

Where to start

If you're thinking about looking for inspiration from YouTube videos, don't. More often than not these videos are clickbait to try and get you to buy a course or watch more videos. The ideas presented in these videos are also more or less beginner projects used to learn the fundamentals of a concept. When you're at the point of your career where you're considering a personal project, the beginner level projects are a waste of time. So what should you do then? Start by thinking of one thing you are passionate about. Once you have your thing, choose a problem related to that thing. Then build a piece of software to solve it.

An example

Let's say we have a fledgling developer named Alice. Alice is really passionate about fitness, but thinks that there isn't a great way for fitness enthusiasts to track their long-term progress. So, Alice decides to build an app that allows fitness enthusiasts to enter some long-term fitness goals, and then track daily, weekly, and monthly progress towards that goal.

Deciding on your problem

Choosing the topic you are passionate about is easy enough, and the wonderful thing about software development is that it allows for a lot of creativity. A developer creating an app to help stop plastic pollution and a developer designing an app to translate ancient languages can use the same technologies to work on two complete unrelated problems. Picking a specific problem however can be a bit more difficult. Your problem should be a stance you take on your passion. It doesn't have to be anything political or controversial, but it needs to be something you have a definite stance on. Let's take a look back at Alice, the fitness enthusiast. Alice's stance is that tracking long-term fitness goals is hard to do, and she wants to fix that. Alice took a topic she was passionate about, and an issue in that topic she felt needed to be changed, and created an app to help solve the problem.

What can you do after your project is done?

Once your project is "completed", there are a multitude of things that you can do with it. One option is to leave it in your portfolio for employers to look and never touch it after that. I don't think this is a wise or smart option as if your project actually manages to solve the problem, why not actually put that application to use? Employers will still see that you created something noteworthy, but they will also see that you took initiative and actually put your project out into the world so actual users can use it. If you're really ambitious, turn your project into a startup, build a team, and actively develop and evolve your product. Don't just make software because someone told you to. Make software because you want to do something with it and solve real world problems.

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